Especially in the northern states, winter storms can threaten both your family and the structural integrity of your home. Blizzards have a history of cutting off power lines, blocking off roads, and exposing people and homes to disastrous conditions.
Snowstorms also bring with them a mix of strong winds, chilling temperatures, snow, ice, and even freezing rain. Taking proper precaution before the snow hits is crucial when it comes to staying warm and safe at home. It can also mean the difference between keeping your home secure and filing an insurance claim for unexpected property damage from Mother Nature.
Check out this list of steps on what to do before and during the winter storm to keep yourself safe at home.
Preparing Your Family for a Blizzard
The most important part of preparing for a winter storm is reviewing a list of safety tips that will help you get through the storm. In other words, make sure you know exactly what to do both before and during a winter storm to keep yourself and your family safe.
- Create a plan with your family to discuss the steps to be taken before, during, and after a blizzard.
- Create an emergency preparedness kit that includes batteries, first-aid supplies, flashlights, food, cellphone, portable chargers, and medications.
- Stock up on food supplies, preferably non-perishables, like water, bread, and canned vegetables.
- Stay updated on the latest weather updates regarding the storm.
- If you have a fireplace, stockpile 2 weeks supply of firewood.
- If your home loses power and temperatures are too cold within the home, plan an evacuation to a local shelter.
Preparing Your Home for a Blizzard
- Ensure that the home is properly insulated to keep in warm air and cold air out.
- In case you lose power, consider purchasing a generator to supply heat throughout your home.
- If you live in a flood zone, or an area that’s prone to flooding, keep your investment safe from thawing ice and snow by investing in flood insurance.
- Insulate your pipes with electrical tape or pipe insulation, open cabinets under sinks, and set up a heater in colder areas of the home with pipes to prevent them from freezing.
Preparing Your Car for a Blizzard
- While the plan is to stay at home, winterizing your car can keep it from freezing during a blizzard.
- Inspect the car battery, heater, breaks, and fluids, including antifreeze, windshield wiper fluid, and oil.
- Keep an ice scraper and broom in your car to remove ice from the windows if needed.
- In the event of sub-zero temperatures, keep a half tank of gas in your car to prevent the fuel lines from freezing.
- Store blankets, hat, coat, gloves, and other warm clothes in your trunk just in case you become stranded and/or your car doesn’t start.
During the Winter Storm
The best place to be during a winter storm is at home, where you and your family are safe from dangerous weather conditions, car crashes, and falling on the ice. Being at home also means that you can respond to any disasters as soon as they happen, limiting any possible damage.
Here are some steps to take to protect your home and family during a winter storm.
Keep Your Home Heated
Your boiler or furnace may be the only heat source during the winter if you don’t have a fireplace. But if you lose power during the storm, using the generator in the step listed above can be a great backup option. Otherwise you can opt for extra blankets, a space heater, and warm clothing. Just be sure to keep the space heater away from combustible materials as they can be very dangerous. Also ensure that combustion heaters are properly ventilated to prevent the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
Keep Your Home Well Lit
Keeping the lights on during a power outage can be difficult, but not impossible. Always use backup sources of light, including the flashlight on your phone, regular flashlights, lanterns, and candles. But for fire safety reasons, consider using flameless candles.
Use Power Generators Safely
Backup generators are great to use during a winter storm, but they can also be a safety hazard when used incorrectly. Start by only using gas-powered units outdoors and prevent CO gas exposure by keeping the equipment away from windows, doors, and vents. Use heavy-duty, outdoor extension cords to plug in appliances.
Never use any camp stoves, charcoal or gas grilles, or other outdoor cooking appliances indoors as their fumes can be deadly if inhaled. To prevent food from spoiling, move perishable food into the refrigerator or freezer, covering them with ice.
Keep the Heat Inside
If you don’t have a fireplace or wood burning stove and you lose power, take all measures to keep the heat inside the home. Keep windows and doors closed, including those to spare bedrooms, and close the drapes over the windows. You can also cover the windows with plastic, provided you have the materials, to keep cold air from leaking in through drafty windows.
Keep Everyone Warm
Babies and the elderly are especially vulnerable to colder temperatures. Keep them warm by dressing them in thick, snug clothing, covering them with a blanket, and/or holding them close to share your body heat if necessary. If you are not able to stay warm at home, make arrangements to leave if necessary.
Insulate the Plumbing
Blizzards can be especially damaging to homes when pipes freeze and burst. To prevent these disasters, keep the temperature above 55 degrees and open cabinets under the sink to allow warm air to circulate around the pipes. Slightly open all faucets to allow just a little water to drip to prevent the buildup of ice within the pipes if they freeze. Also keep bottles of water on hand in case any frozen pipes cut off your water supply during the storm.
Recover from a Disaster
While snowstorms are often not as damaging compared to other disasters, they can create conditions within the home that threaten a disaster, such as frozen and burst pipes. While there are steps that can be taken to prevent them, such as insulation methods and setting up heaters in unheated parts of the home, these accidents still happen.
When they do, be sure to contact a team of restoration professionals for emergency water damage restoration services from frozen pipes. These technicians are available 24/7 and are licensed, trained, and experienced to handle emergencies at all times of the day, including during snowstorms.
In the event that a snow storm has caused severe damage to your property, such as ice or wind damage, these professionals are also available to provide emergency storm damage restoration. Everything from removing heavy amounts of snow to repairing the outside structure of the home, you can count on them to be there when you need it most. Don’t hesitate to contact your local team of restoration technicians in the event of an emergency.